It’s like déjà vu, but hopefully this time it will be for real.
Several months ago the UK jumped eagerly on France ’s coat-tails by announcing it’s support for a trade ban on bluefin. Amidst the ups and downs since then our friends at Defra have been noticeably unforthcoming of late. Getting any straight answer out of them on bluefin was like setting up a black pudding factory on Mount Everest. That’s why we encouraged supporters to make sure Defra did the right thing and publicly supported a trade ban.
And guess what? They just did. Hot on the stacked heels of Mr Sarkozy’s government, our own fisheries minister, Huw Irranca-Davies, issued a statement supporting a full trade ban for Atlantic bluefin at the end of last week. Notable highlights were:
“…As such, we maintain our long held position that Bluefin be given the highest protection available by listing it under CITES Appendix 1.” [that means a full international trade ban, not just restrictions on trade]
“…The UK will work tirelessly to secure the adoption of the Appendix I listing in Doha.”
Well, good on you Huw, and good on you, too, if you helped us by sending a message to Defra in the past few weeks. Thank you!
However, not wishing to rain on Huw’s parade, but there has since been an even more significant announcement since – by CITES themselves. Or, rather their secretariat and scientific advisory group. They have said that Atlantic bluefin qualifies for Appendix 1 (a full trade ban) and that they hope that it should be listed.
There seems now no credible doubt that the species meets the criteria, and should be subject to an international trade ban. (CITES say so, Governments say so, hey – even ICCAT say so!) … the only doubt is what will drive the politicians when it comes to the CITES meeting in Doha, where there will be all manner of horse-trading on everything from corals to polar bears.
Will they listen to the clear and impartial advice from the scientists? Will they heed public opinion? Will they listen to the growing band of famous names backing bluefin? Will they listen to the chefs eager to drop the species?
We still have to make sure that they do.